Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by for a paper or test, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 2019, and 66 books in 2020). In the last year or so, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks because I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have at least two hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening this year. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in August:

  • The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver - I read Mason's debut novel earlier this year and gave it two thumbs up, so when this one popped up on my Hoopla app I knew I needed to give it a try. This is definitely a heavy book. It deals with death and grief. It's raw and feels very authentic (even though at times I wanted to shake the teenagers to get them to "grow up", but that's teenagers, right?!), which makes sense when you listen to/ read the author's note at the end of the book. Can I just say it hit me in #AllTheFeels?! Liam, the main character in the story, lost their brother in a tragic hit-and-run accident and is now having to not only work through their loss, but also the other changes going on in their life (i.e. friendships changing, learning more about their brother, new family dynamics, etc). I'd say Liam was hard to like at points... but grief is a personal and immensely difficult emotion to wade through, so I understand if they were "off". I think my heart broke more for Marcus than Liam, but maybe because he was a more likeable character in my opinion. Even still, this book hit me in the gut and helped to remind me how precious and fleeting life is, so we need to live every moment to the fullest and tell those around you how much they mean to you. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Logical Family by Armistead Maupin - I'll be honest, I had never read any of Armistead's previous works, but I am always down for a good memoir and when the synopsis mentioned he was an icon in the gay movement I knew I wanted to give it a go. He was one of the original activists in the LGBT community. I can see how he made a living as a journalist and writer - his storytelling ability is pretty amazing! This book read like a conversation with an old friend - casual, warm and witty. His life is very fascinating (from being in the Navy during Vietnam to living in San Francisco during the 1970s) and I always appreciate a behind-the-scenes peek into someone's "real life". I also loved that some of the characters in his Tales of the City series were based on real people in his life (along with actual experiences). After I finished with this, I immediately went onto my Hoopla app to add all of the books in the series to my "For Later" list. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Running & Being by Dr George Sheehan - I was excited about this one. I am always down for a good running book and this one caught my eye while scrolling through some of the "running/ sports" books available for download on my Hoopla app. Well, I'll be honest and say this one was a big disappointment for me. Now, don't get me wrong, some people may love it, but I felt like it was just too much philosophy and not enough about actual running. The only section that I really enjoyed was when he was talking about the Boston Marathon and I think that's because I've had two amazing races there (albeit two very different experiences) and it brought me back to those runs. It might also be that the author and I are two very different runners. Although he talks about "enjoying the run", he runs every race (or at least this is the way he made it seem) at 110%. He crosses the finish line and normally ends up on all fours, gasping for breath or needing someone to hold him up. That type of push and drive may be inspiring to some (and in some instances it definitely is), but I think if that's the type of runner he is, we might not jive on all philosophies behind running. There were actually quite a few points in the book where I even questioned if I wanted to finish and that rarely happens! I did end up listening all the way to the end, but I'm bummed it didn't live up to the expectations I had. I would give it a 4 out of 10.

  • The Pants of Perspective by Anna McNuff - After the previous letdown of a running book, I needed something to redeem my sports reads and came across this one. I didn't know anything about the author or her journey across New Zealand, but I figured it sounded interesting (I always love following along on people's adventures on the AT, PCT, etc so thought this was right up my alley). I am so stoked to report that this one was great! The audiobook was read by the author and she's AMAZEBALLS (and loves the term as much as I do, hehe). I love her energy and enthusiasm for running AND life. She sounded like someone I could be immediate friends with (wouldn't it be fan-freakin'-tastic if I came across her in my running journeys one day?!). The book read like a race recap and I appreciated hearing the highs AND lows of her six month, 3,000 kilometer trek across New Zealand. As can be expected, once I finished (let's be real, the feelings were already there within a chapter or two) my mind was already trying to think through if and how I could make a run like this happen for myself. I've actually already recommended this book to two friends who I hope love it just as much as I did. I also added it to my list of physical books I would like to add to my personal library! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - If I remember this correctly, I got this in a swap from someone who I sent some of my finished books to a while back. It's been on my bookshelf for a while (I think I started it last fall and then life got busy and I mostly went to audiobooks because I didn't have a ton of time to sit and read a physical book) and I finally picked it back up. If you can't tell already, I really enjoy firsthand accounts of people's journeys on gnarly adventures. This is the recounting of a journey on the Appalachian Trail. I sort of love that it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns. Don't get me wrong, I would never wish harm or travesty on anyone, but sometimes I feel like these type of adventures get romanticized and it isn't exactly reality. Sometimes there is despair, sometimes you get lost, sometimes your body hurts and you just can't keep going, sometimes you run out of water and want to give up (and sometimes it really is picture-perfect ;)). This book has a little history, a little about the land and a little about the hiking Bill did. I'll be honest, a couple of people mentioned how much they LOVED this book when they noticed I was reading it... and although it was fine, I wouldn't say it was my favorite (maybe it was the author and his humor, maybe it was the air he had about himself, I'm not sure but something rubbed me a bit the wrong way), but to each their own! I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - I had heard a few friends talk about really enjoying this book, so when I saw it at my local free library I figured I'd give it a go. Thankfully I had some down time and could finally pick up a physical book and get through it. I'll be honest, sci-fi is not normally my go-to genre, but I was pleasantly surprised that this story turned out to be more about love and family (with a little sci-fi thriller tossed in for good measure). Maybe I liked it more because the science fiction took a backseat (don't get me wrong, the idea was pretty "out there", but once you get passed the overall idea, the details are all about the relationships). I was also a little worried that this plot would be over my head, since I am not a quantum scientist, but thankfully the author did a good enough job explaining the main points in layman's terms that I didn't feel too corn-fused. It was definitely an interesting idea - what would have happened if you would have made a different decision when it came to your job, your relationship, your evening plans, etc?! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

With that, August has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!  

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What's the best book you've read lately? 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Workout Recap - Week 35

Sunday, August 22nd – 10.4 mile trail run with the hubby

Monday, August 23rd – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, August 24th – 13.24 mile run

Wednesday, August 25th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, August 26th – 10.10 mile run

Friday, August 27th – Rest Day

Saturday, August 28th – 24 mile run

My last long run before I start to taper and of course it was 94% humidity at 4:04am when I started. YUCK! This humidity is zapping my energy, but I guess one positive is where I will be running has like ZERO humidity so I'm sure the weather will feel amazing no matter what it is! I also realized this is the first training cycle (for a marathon or ultra) that I've done since working 40+ hours a week out of the house... no wonder this cycle felt like it kicked me in the pants more than in the past (especially since I am on my feet for those 40+ hours a week)! But now it's time for a few last runs and rest up!

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Happy Trail Running Month {from Merrell}

Did you know August is Trail Running Month?! #RealTalk - I had no idea until the AWESOME folks over at Merrell contacted me and asked if they could send me a package as a way to celebrate. Um... HECK TO THE YES, OF COURSE! SIGN ME UP! [FYI - When I was getting info ready for this post I didn't find anything "official" about August being Trail Running Month per say, but any reason to encourage folks to get out running on the trails is fine by me ;)]

They asked for my shoe size and mailing address, so I figured maybe they'd send me a pair of overstocked shoes that they were having a hard time selling, but golly gee, was I wrong! I came home to a BIG O' BOX on my front porch!

I may have accusedly asked the hubby if he bought a monitor or something without discussing it first with me ;)

I was so excited to dive in and see what Merrell sent. I was floored! Not only was there so much more than I would have ever expected, but the goodies were AMAZEBALLS! This wasn't just quickly thrown together; it was obvious someone took a lot of time and thought to curate and coordinate the products they included {all to help get in some WILD MILES!}. 

Two shoe boxes and a gift bag full of goodies! 

As you (may or may not) know, I've got a big birthday run scheduled this year and I'm sure that MANY of these goodies will come in handy. In fact, the hubby and I have had our eyes on a Life Straw for quite a while (we always carry iodine tablets with us to purify our water, but something like this always seemed amazing... we just never pulled the trigger and ordered them for ourselves). And I'm trying to decide if I should tie-dye the shoulder bag or add patches and pins to it... 

I'll be honest, I've never worn Merrell shoes before, but I'm stoked to give them a try! I'd say that a white camo shoe wouldn't be my first choice aesthetically, but I love that the Antora 2 Trail Running Shoe is vegan friendly and offers a rock plate for protection on the trails. (FYI - It does have a medial post for pronation, which I do not have, so it might not work for me, but I'll give it a shot!) The Agility Peak 4 definitely has an interesting lacing system and seems like it would work on just about any terrain with the Vibram® MegaGrip® for the best combination of traction and durability on wet or dry surfaces. I'm pretty sure both pairs are calling me to the trails! Can't wait to take them out for some dirt and vert!


PS To help everyone get in the mood for Trail Running Month Merrell has a Wild Miles Challenge! Each week they have a challenge to complete, information for new runners, and content to encourage miles on the trail. If you aren't already following them on Instagram, make sure you do so! And, in case this isn't obvious, I've gotta give a BIG thank you to Merrell for the goodies and for bringing my attention to how important August truly is when it comes to the outdoors ;) 


Do you prefer running on the roads or on the trails?

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Workout Recap - Week 34

Sunday, August 15th – 10 mile run with the hubby

Monday, August 16th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, August 17th – 13.13 mile run

Wednesday, August 18th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, August 19th – 10.10 mile run

Friday, August 20th – Rest Day

Saturday, August 21st – 22 mile run

A somewhat BIG update this week... The hubby has decided he does not want to do the full 37 mile run with me for my birthday, so he has started dialing back his training a bit - which means my longer runs will now be solo. The new game plan for the Yosemite to Mammoth adventure is he will be running the first 5 or so miles with me (and then turning around and running back to the truck), driving to the "finish" and hiking until he meets up with me to run me in. This run was all about fun and enjoyment, so if that's what he would prefer that is 100% okay with me! I'm still psyched for it nonetheless!

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Workout Recap - Week 33

Sunday, August 8th – 10.6 mile trail run with the hubby

Monday, August 9th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, August 10th – 13.13 mile run

Wednesday, August 11th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, August 12th – 10.10 mile progression run

Friday, August 13th – Rest Day

Saturday, August 14th – 22 mile run with the hubby

Originally we were planning on tackling 22 trail miles on Saturday, but the hubby hit his ankle on his surfboard Thursday and it was a little sore (plus the weather was HOT AND HUMID and we had some other obligations pop up earlier than expected on Saturday), so we took to the roads/ beach instead. Hey, time on feet is time on feet. The body is feeling good (well, despite the fact that we are soaked within the first quarter mile of starting our run which makes running a bit harder than normal) and I'm stoked that we are LESS THAN A MONTH away from the birthday running adventure! Only two more long runs before the big run - YIPPEE! Here's to finishing out this training strong and ready to ROCK it! WE GOT THIS!

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Monday, August 9, 2021

Balboa Park 8-Miler Race Recap

This past Saturday was the 67th Annual Balboa Park 8-Miler. It is actually the longest running race in San Diego – pretty cool, right?! This was my third time running it. I did it in 2016, 2018 and then DNS {did not start} in 2019. Originally the hubby and I were registered for the 2020 race but due to COVID-19 and all of the health and safety protocols it was cancelled (eventually made into a virtual race that we opted out of) so we rolled our registrations over to this year’s event.

Three-time finisher... BOOM!

In fact, this was my first in-person race in SEVENTEEN MONTHS! My last “real” race was the Los Angeles Marathon in March of 2020 (just weeks before the world changed as we knew it). I’ll be honest, I was pretty anxious about the idea of an in-person race. Since COVID-19, I have done my best to heed the CDC recommendations, as well as all of the national and local protocols. That means the hubby and I stayed away from our friends and family for months at a time, we only ventured out for essential errands (like groceries or work) and kept our circle very small once things were able to re-open. I think we’ve really only been out to eat a handful of times since everything closed then re-opened then closed again and now is open again (don’t get me wrong, we do our best to support our local businesses, but we do so with take-out so we can eat in the comfort of our own home). I wasn’t sure how I felt with being corralled into confined spaces with hundreds of people, but thankfully the San Diego Running Co. put the health and safety of their runners above everything else and I am happy to report that I felt comfortable the entire time… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My first "real" finish line in almost a year and a half!

As some of you may know, the hubby and I are training for a birthday adventure this fall (I'll be turning 37 on September 10th, so the plan is to run 37 miles from Yosemite to Mammoth). Our training plan worked out PERFECTLY and this week was a cutback week (what that means is we ramp up mileage for three consecutive weeks and then on the fourth week in the cycle we cut it back to give our bodies more time to rest/ recover/ heal). The week before we had a 20-miler on Saturday and a 10-miler on Sunday, but this week we “only” had a 10-miler and 8-miler (so we swapped our Saturday and Sunday runs so that way we didn’t have to get in any extra mileage pre- or post-race). It’s like it was meant to be!


I worked till 7pm Friday, so after the hubby picked me up and I ate dinner, it was time to shower and get ready to hit the hay. Thankfully I had my gear laid out so I didn’t have to stress about forgetting something when the alarms went off.

#FlatCarlee included: tank top from Sarah Marie Design Studio, skirt from Sparkle Athletic, shoes from Brooks Runningsports bra
from Brooks Running
, socks from PRO Compression, handheld from Nathanpersonal ID bracelet from ROADiDwatch from COROS,
silicone wedding rings from QALO, bracelets from MudLOVE and Momentum Jewelry and neck gaiter from #WeRunSocial.

And the alarms started early! The race was set to start at 7am, but because we couldn’t make it down to the bib pick-up earlier in the week due to our work schedules, we needed to check in and grab everything on race morning, which opened at 6am. The game plan was to leave the house by 5:15am so we could get to the parking area by 6 and then have plenty of time to get our bibs and participant tees, hit the potties, take the shirts back to the car and then make it back to the starting line for the race. I know my alarms were set for 2 hours before we were meant to leave, but that’s because I am on a medication that I need to take 30-60 minutes before eating anything… so my 3:13am alarm means I can eat by 3:43am, have 30 minutes to get myself ready, get the hubby and pup’s breakfasts ready and use the restroom before waking up the hubby at 4:15am. He isn’t a morning person, so I need to allot for a little extra time he can use to “fully” wake up, as well as get ready himself and then we also have to walk Walt before heading out. (And after re-reading that I’m sure you care very little about my morning routine and could have just posted a picture of my alarms… oops ;))

By the way, although my first alarm was set for 3:13am, my body woke me up at 2:15am…

The morning went smoothly and we were able to get down to the parking lot with plenty of time to spare. In fact, we got there a few minutes early (thanks to not many people being on the road at 5am) and even parked closer to the start/ finish line than in year's past – SCORE! We hung out in the car for a few minutes and just enjoyed the peace of the morning.

Well, I enjoyed the peace and the hubby played on his phone for a while ;)

Eventually we got our booties into gear and made our way over to the starting area. We used the port-o-potties (to runners, unused port-o-potties are like unicorns… few and far between, but when you find them, they’re absolutely magical ;)), checked in and grabbed our shirts before heading back to the car to max and relax for a few more minutes.

A port-o-potty that hasn't been used before AND has no line?! What did I do to deserve something so great?!

Once it was closer to start time we pinned our bibs to our shirts, grabbed our handhelds (#RealTalk – I don’t currently feel completely comfortable grabbing cups of water from the aid stations, nor do I love how congested those areas can become during a race, so we planned ahead to carry all of our own water and fuel… but were sure to yell “thanks” to all of the volunteers manning the areas as we ran by) and walked the short distance over to the race. While the hubby was stretching I saw a sweet friend so we snapped a picture together before wishing each other a great race.

I've seen Sheri all over recently!

We stayed away from the crowds (although most people were pretty spread out) until the last possible moment. A few minutes before the official start time, the hubby and I walked towards the corrals. This is a self-seeding race with chip time, meaning your time doesn’t start until you cross the starting line timing mat and folks could line up however they would like (hopefully with the faster folks in the front and the slower people towards the back, but inevitably there are always some runners who line up “incorrectly”), so we decided we'd steer clear of the crowds, stay to the far side of the shoot and slowly make our way to go when there was adequate space. I think we ended up going in the sixth or seventh wave (they were releasing groups of a hundred or so every 45-60 seconds to spread everyone out a bit on the course).

We stayed on the sidewalk away from others (and had our face coverings on... I only took it down for the photo)

We did our best to stay at least 6 feet away from folks at all times, but there were points this wasn’t possible, so both the hubby and I wore buffs around our necks that we would use to cover ours mouths and noses when in close proximity to others – the main points were at the starting line and once we crossed the finish line, but there were another couple spots where the course narrowed so we could easily pull up the fabric to give ourselves a little extra protection.


Like I mentioned, this was not our first rodeo, but I always forget how much I enjoy the course. There seems to be a little bit of everything. There are flat straightaways, rolling hills, a couple steep hills and even some trail. Balboa Park isn’t huge, so you do a little looping around to hit the eight miles, but even still I never got bored or felt like it was redundant.

Balboa Park isn't a National Park but I still loved the painted electrical box!

I was so proud of the hubby because there is a fairly gnarly hill in the second half of the race (they call it Zig Zag hill and it's right before mile 6) and normally he tends to walk the hills, but he pushed through the pain and conquered it without a single walking step! HE'S A ROCKSTAR WHO IS GETTING STRONGER AND STRONGER EVERY SINGLE RUN!

This is the only picture I caught of him while he was running, less than a mile from the finish.

When I had originally signed up for this race (we tend to register for the following year once we do the current year because it’s normally the best deal for the registration fee), I was planning on racing it. The previous time I ran it I was just over an hour, so was hoping I could get in some speedwork and rock the race the next go-around… but then COVID and “ultra” training, so this year was all about enjoying time with the hubby on the course. Maybe I’ll get back to ‘fast’ races in the future, but for now I’m enjoying the casual pace and longer distances (PS I always tell the hubby that if he is willing to run with me, I am willing to run his pace with him NO QUESTIONS ASKED. He started to run because I found a passion for it, so running at his speed is the least I can do… even if at times my body finds it physically harder to run slower.).

And, #RealTalk, running slower allows be the chance to stop for photo ops and
still be able to run to catch back up with the hubby before he is too far away ;)

The weather was decent. Overcast and cooler (in the high 60s/ low 70s), but high humidity (83%). We were pretty soggy, but it could always be worse… You’d think we'd be used to running in this humidity since we haven’t had a break from it in the last few months, but no such luck! By the time our bodies DO acclimate to it, the weather will probably change, hehe.

I forgot to snap a 'real time' picture of the weather, so 
this one I took at 2:40am will have to suffice ;)

Eventually we were pulling our buffs back up on our faces and crossing the finish line. I hadn’t looked at my watch the entire time, which, for me, is a sign of a good time… not necessarily a good “finisher time” but a good time had on the course ;). We got in one of our weekend runs, we ripped off the Band-Aid of tackling our first in-person race since the start of COVID and we enjoyed the sights and sounds of San Diego. I think I will consider it a major success!

I'm so lucky he puts up with all of my running craziness!

Seeing as lately the hubby prefers being around 10-11 minutes/mile, I was THRILLED
when I saw we were in the 9 minute range for all of the miles expect the one with the hill!

Saturday was also my manager’s birthday, so I was working at the running store so she could enjoy her day. That meant we didn’t hang around after the race (but, let’s be honest, with my nerves around the crowds, I wasn’t feeling the post-race shindig) and hit the road after snapping a few photos. And if you’ve followed me for a while, you know what comes next, right?! Obviously the hubby fell asleep on the car ride home (he swears the car rocks him to sleep like a baby).

It NEVER fails... No matter if he ran or "just" spectated, if he's in the passenger seat, he'll fall asleep post-race!

Traffic was fine (never quite sure with San Diego weekend traffic) and we made great time. Once we got home I jumped in the shower, rehydrated with some nuun, scarfed down some lunch and then walked my way to work (had traffic been bad the hubby would have driven me to work, but I enjoy my walk commute and had time, so pounded a little more pavement).

Ready for a shift of slingin' running shoes ;)

If you’re in the San Diego area in early August and can make the Balboa Park 8-Miler happen, I’d definitely recommend it. You get a little of everything when it comes to the course/ terrain and maybe we can even get in a few miles together ;)

I know, I know, the Plaza de Panama Fountain on the bling is NOT the
fountain in the background, but this one was closer to the finish line ;)

Have you run any in-person races since the beginning of COVID?